LACONIA — Faced with a pending shortfall in cups used in court-ordered urine analysis screenings, Belknap County Commissioners on Thursday approved the transfer of $4,000 from contingency funds to the Restorative Justice program, which conducts the tests.
Michael MacFadzen, director of the program, told commissioners that their request for $6,000 for the testing program was cut by the Belknap County Delegation to $3,000 and that he has already used nearly 43 percent of those funds,
He has estimated that the department will make about 2,600 tests during a year. He said the department currently has 66 active court diversion cases and 70 active pre-trial cases and he is concerned that it will run out of funds for the tests before the year is out.
The Restorative Justice program involves supervision of both juveniles and adults in court diversion programs, many of who perform community service as part of the process, and are required to take tests to show they haven’t used drugs or alcohol.
MacFadzen said that the pre-trial cases are particularly demanding on both his department’s personnel and resources, in part because the defendants don’t pay fees for the court-ordered tests. In addition, the Restorative Justice program’s office has to be closed on Wednesday afternoons so that those awaiting trial can report and be supervised.
“Urine screens are of particular importance for our diversion clients as that forces compliance with no drug and alcohol usage as part of that program. The PTS clients are pulling that resource away from the diversion clients,” MacFadzen wrote in his report to commissioners.
He said that he is hoping that the recent hiring of a pre-trial service coordinator for the Belknap County Corrections Department will help lighten the load on his department and that tests for the 70 pre-trial cases will be shifted to the new Community Corrections Center.
MacFadzen pointed out that county delegation has not funded the pre-trial services line in the Corrections Department budget since the program was established in late 2016.
He also requested funds for repair work on the department’s van, which did not pass inspection, and is used to transport tools, equipment and volunteers to community service projects as well as make pickups in the department’s Pay Day Food Drive.
He said that without the van he would have to end the food drive and a number of community service projects.
Cost of the parts needed for repair of the van is $1,273 and MacFadzen says he has worked out an arrangement with the automotive technology program at the Huot Center at Laconia High School in which the work can be performed for free.
He asked for $3,000 to be transferred to cover both items.
Commission Vice Chairman Glenn Waring, who chaired Thursday’s meeting due to absence of Commission Chairman Dave DeVoy, and Commissioner Hunter Taylor, said they thought he needed more money than requested and voted to transfer $4,000 to the department.